AFTI Calls on USTR to Ratchet Up Pressure on India Over Intellectual Property Concerns

Despite some tentative moves to tighten intellectual property (IP) protections and assure greater access to its market for IP-intensive U.S. industries, India continues to drag its feet to address and to fix its IP environment. Consequently, this month, AFTI asked the Office of the United States Trade Representative, as part of its annual Special 301 Report, to once again place India on its Priority Watch List.

In our letter, we noted that, “There is strong evidence that India has not made meaningful efforts to upgrade from its current status under the Priority Watch List, or made sufficient efforts to protect IPR holders’ interests with respect to patents, copyright, and trade secrets.”

India’s government has still not addressed numerous longstanding shortcomings identified in the Special 301 Reports of 2018 and prior years. These include pressure on U.S.-based companies to place within India manufacturing, a practice called forced localization, for industries as diverse as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and information technology products; major hurdles seeking and enforcing intellectual property protections (including regulatory data protection) for innovative medicines; and the fact that India remains a digital piracy hotbed.

However, AFTI acknowledges some positive steps taken by the Indian government related to IP over the past year, such as reduced delays in patent and trademark examinations, a December 2018 decision by India’s Supreme Court supporting Monsanto’s patent rights, and recent amendment of India’s Cinematograph Act that criminalizes the film piracy that remains rampant and costly in that country.  These modest improvements illustrate a growing recognition within India that improving the country’s IP environment is critical for its own development, growth and expansion of its business environment.

AFTI will continue to press throughout 2019 for India to take truly substantial steps to boost its IP protections – which are essential for a stronger, more mutually-beneficial relationship with the United States.

Our letter to USTR making this request can be found HERE.